July,  2017 

Your copy of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association 'News & Views' has arrived!   You will find that you can easily go to any subject in the table of contents by just clicking on it or just browse through the articles as you wish. Please have a look. 


Next Meeting 08/07/2017



There is no meeting in the month of July, as is our practice.  Happy summer vacation to all!  The next meeting is Monday August 7th, 6:15 P.M. at The 224 Eco-Space, 224 Farmington Ave .  


From The Chair

Thoughts from the Chair

It is a wonderful thing to witness and be a part of the execution of a plan that enhances the quality of life in a neighborhood. There's nothing like it. When people from different cultures, educational backgrounds and races come together with one mind, one mission, one vision and establish one voice there is nothing that can stop them from executing their plan. The phenomenon of the action isn't always in the execution of a plan to better a community, but it's in the outcome. The outcome of a plan to better the quality of life in a community can affect and even create change in how people work together on future neighborhood projects, how and where the children learn and play, public safety and economic development.
This month, together, let's work with others and assist in existing plans that can make tremendous changes for the better in our neighborhood. There is a Anti Blight movement going on in the city, together let's see how we can help remediate blight in our neighborhood, AHNA'S Public Safety Committee is working tirelessly to eliminate pan-handling, the Hunger Action team is working to establish food centers in our community. Non profit Human Service agencies, schools and churches such as Urban League of Greater Hartford, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Clubs, Hartford City Ballet, West Middle School, Asylum Hill Congregational Church and The Cathedral of St. Joseph and many more are here in Asylum Hill, they all have missions and plans to provide a plethora of services to help enhance the quality of life for everyone and for every family not only in Asylum Hill, but in the City of Hartford and it's region as well. 
Join us at our next AHNA meeting on August 7, 2017 at 6:15pm at the 224 EcoSpace, 224 Farmington Avenue. We need your help and input to plan and to see how we can assist others in executing the plans for their projects that are meant to enhance the quality of life in Asylum Hill.
Happy Birthday to all who are celebrating birthday's during the month of July!
Stay cool, stay hydrated and visit your neighbor!

HouseFrom the House

Greetings to my friends and neighbors in Asylum Hill!

A Pro-Connecticut Agenda
By Rep. Matt Ritter
Take Some Time to Enjoy Hartford This Summer
Whether it's throwing a Frisbee in Elizabeth Park, playing golf at Keney Park, seeing a show at Hartford Stage or the Bushnell, catching a band at one of our bars or clubs, or riding the carousel in Bushnell Park you can have a full summer here in Hartford.
 I was watching Channel 8 a few weeks ago and our first lady, Cathy Malloy was on talking about all the events the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the City of Hartford are sponsoring this summer. Her enthusiasm for our capital city and all it has to offer was great to see.
 Some of the events she highlighted sound like fun for the whole family:
  •    Connecticut River Fireworks, July 8th, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
  •   Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, July 14 - 16 at Bushnell Park
  •   Taste of the Caribbean + Jerk Fest, August 5, Mortensen Riverfront    Plaza
  •   West Indian Independence Celebration, August 12 at Bushnell Park
  •   Riverfront Dragon Boat + Asian Festival, August 19 at Mortensen    Riverfront Plaza
  •   Hartford Capital City PrideFest, September 9 on Pratt Street in  Hartford
 These events also highlight and celebrate the diversity of Hartford. 
Have a great and safe summer! 

Read More

Hawks Eye View

Hawk's Eye View
June 2017
Last Thursday, June 15,2017 West Middle Community School held its annual Family Fun Day event at the Asylum Hill Boys and Girls Club. All 480+ students and families were invited to attend. It was a true community effort. Joseph Bumpers, Community School Director, manned the grill, staff served the food, Connectikids staff manned the games and family members even took turns in the dunk tank.
On Friday June 16, 2017 West Middle Community School held its annual promotion exercises. The ceremony included a song by the 8th grade students, student speeches, a phenomenal guest speaker and a slideshow of the best moments of 2016-2017.
WMCS has fifty eighth graders who will enter to high school in the Fall. Students will be entering Bulkeley High School, HPHS Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, HPHS Nursing Academy, Kinsella, Prince Tech and SMSA to name a few.
Early Start Summer programming will run from July 10th -August 4th. During this time we will welcome the United Way Readers in collaboration with the Hartford Public Library Summer Learning program . UWR will work with our 2nd graders encouraging them to complete the HPL Summer reading Program.
West Middle Community School Volunteer Resource Center continues to seek volunteers. We are looking for classroom support, assistance with student activities, and many more opportunities.
We always welcome support and enthusiasm.  Contact the school to reach our leaders, including Principal Lynn Estey, Dean of Students Brenda Stovall, School Governance Council Chairperson Doug Glanville and Community School Coordinator Joe Bumpers.
Photos of the events are available at https://goo.gl/photos/KbmYeassEg2z1eze8
by: Nicole Rodriguez, Director of Volunteer Resources

AHThen  Exploring Asylum Hill 

Exploring Asylum Hill - Give and Take Pantry

The Give and Take Pantry is a little free food pantry that resides at 202 Laurel Street. It is the response to a call to action last fall from Azua Echevarria: "Who will build one of these little free food pantries in Hartford?" 
This community resource is the result of several people meeting through a shared goal: "do something tangible for the common good together." Azua made the mobilizing post on social media. Asylum Hill residents Carol Padberg and Paul Bartoo answered the call. John Meder, a carpenter and architect who works in Hartford and lives in Pennsylvania constructed the pantry over the winter. And Jordon Conover, the owner of Hartford Fence Company, personally installed the pantry in the spring. And since then many anonymous neighbors have contributed and benefitted.

Asylum Hill Then And Now

AH Then & Now The Stowe House

This month, we want to call attention to the Stowe House. Not to show a photo of when it was built, or even of when it became a museum nearly 50 years ago, but rather it's amazing transformation over the last year.
Above is a photo from the Ground Breaking Ceremony in May of 2016, below from the Ribbon Cutting on June 12th this year.  The effort started months before the ground breaking, and all the improvements such as carpeting and wallpaper are yet to be complete, but this transformation is something to be proud of.  The first renovation since the Stowe House opened as a museum nearly 50 years ago, much of the improvements are meant to ensure that it we be around for more than another 50 years. State-of-the-art fire suppression, climate control and UV filtering windows will help preserve these new renovations and new technology will help to tell the story that makes this house so important locally, nationally and throughout the world.




Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer of the Month - Mary deManbey

It was a combination of timing and opportunity that opened the door for Mary deManbey to begin as a volunteer at West Middle School. She had recently retired from her job at CBIA where she had worked with high school students from around the region. She is a member of Asylum Hill Congregational Church where she sings in the choir, and for a long time she has had a desire to work with younger children. So when she heard about the Volunteer Resource Center that was recently established at WMS, she started the process.
"So I met with Nicole Rodriguez, the Volunteer Coordinator there" Mary said, "the way they do it is teachers let her know where there's a need for volunteers."
 It turns out Ann Sullivan, a second grade teacher and the daughter of Kathleen Sullivan who works at AHCC, was looking for a volunteer to help her students with their writing skills. 

Georges Needs A Kidney Part 5


In my quest to help my friend Georges receive a transplanted kidney, I am nearing a significant marker. I just finished a nuclear stress test and an echocardiogram, both intended to insure that my heart is strong enough to withstand the elective surgery of kidney donation. I passed, in fact it seems I passed with a healthy margin. And so the journey that began at the beginning of March with the question "could I be a kidney donor" has finally arrived at "yes".
In all of the previous articles that have described this journey, I have tried to convey what seems to me to be the extreme care used to determine the answer to this question. For most of my life I have had fortunately little contact with the medical community, especially professionally. 


Panhandling A Closer Look

Anecdotally, panhandling seems to be on the rise in Asylum Hill, in fact, in all of Hartford. But it turns out it's not just us. Reports around the country indicate it's a problem almost everywhere. There are a number of difficulties with panhandling. From a neighborhood perspective it's like littering, a symptom of neglect. It's one more thing that tells both residents and visitors that this is not a healthy community. In a healthy community asking a stranger for occasional help should be no big deal. Change for a parking meter, like a cup of sugar to bake a cake is a part of community, being a neighbor. That's not what we have here. The isolation is much greater as is the need.
So when someone stops you on the way into a neighborhood store or ATM, despite their ask, a few dollars is most often not really what they need, certainly not all they need. It's a lot more than that and so the giving needs to be more as well.
As it's hard to imagine that panhandling is anyone's career choice, it's also hard to imagine that anyone could do it day by day and not loose all self-respect.
Whenever we're confronted by someone panhandling, I think most of us respond with a combination of emotions. For me, it's a combination of annoyance, compassion, guilt and frustration in no particular order. Annoyance, because I know what it does to the perception of Asylum Hill and Hartford that we're trying so hard to change. Compassion, because I really would like to help this person. Guilt, because no matter what I do, it seems it's not really helping. Frustration because I really don't know what the right response is.
In researching the problem, I came across a paper titled Preventing Panhandling from the Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center. In it they point out that "Enforcing laws against panhandling plays a relatively small role in controlling the problem. Public education to discourage donations, and providing adequate access and availability of social services - especially treatment for drug or alcohol abuse - are more effective tactics in a comprehensive community response to panhandling."
It seems to make sense that in a neighborhood with as many social service agencies and nonprofits as Asylum Hill has, adequate access and availability shouldn't be the main problem. Public education along with an alternative to cash might make more of a difference. In the coming months we'll continue to look into this issue to see what can be done.
Bernie Michel  


Stowe Prize and Stowe House Grand Re-opening

This was an especially important year for the Stowe Center that culminated in the first week of June.  Not only was it the year for the Stowe Prize to be presented, but also it was the completion of the multimillion dollar renovation of the house itself, the first since it became a museum, and the inauguration of the new interactive tour.
To begin the festivities, was the interview by John Dankowsky of Bryan Stevenson, this year's winner of the Stowe Prize for Writing for Social Justice, which was awarded for his newest book Just Mercy. Immanuel Congregational Church, the venue for the discussion was nearly at capacity. The program began and ended with nearly a full minute each of standing ovation. Clearly the audience appreciated his work and was not disappointed.




Town and County Club Spring Forum

On June 20 th the Town & County Club's Community Relations Committee hosted their 4 th annual Spring Forum. Titled  Envisioning the Future Through the Doors of the Past, it was a fascinating exploration of Hartford's story, past present and future through its architecture.
The panelists were some of the best of Hartford including Jared Edwards, founding architect of Smith Edwards McCoy Architects and Mary Donahue, historic preservationist and architectural historian representing the Past; Frank Hagaman, Executive Director of Hartford Preservation Alliance and Jackie Gorsky Mandyck, Director of the iQuilt Project representing the present; and Laura Settlemyer, Director of Blight Remediation, City of Hartford representing the future.
The panel presentation and Q&A were moderated by Toni Gold, President of Urban Edge Associates.
But before the panel began, Janet Castricum, the Community Relations Committee Chair introduced Susan Aller, a longtime member of the Town & County Club and a member of the Lyman Heritage Preservation Foundation who spoke about the history of the magnificent home that began as the private residence of the Theodore Lyman family before becoming the home of the Town & County Club. This could be seen as a best-case scenario, in that the 27-room mansion, built in 1895 was purchased directly from the original owners in 1925, and all subsequent modifications and restorations have been done in keeping with it's original architecture. 


Arts and Music on the Hill

HCB Showcase and Cinderella

Early in June, Hartford City Ballet concluded their season at Kingswood Oxford School with a ballet showcase followed by a staging of the classic ballet
Cinderella by Sergei Prokofiev. The children that first started with HCB years ago have grown and developed into excellent accomplished dancers, while new children are joining the school each year. This is an enterprise that Asylum Hill can be proud of, and one whose reputation continues to grow as well.
Each year the students take a field trip to New York City to see American Ballet Theatre and visit back stage. This year was no exception as they were greeted by Misty Copeland, one of their most famous dancers. The trip inspires the students to continue the effort necessary to be the best they can, as several graduates of HCB have been accepted into professional programs at American Ballet Theatre and others.

Celebrations Music and Rain

The end of June brought two celebrations, complete with music, food, dancing and unpredictable weather. On Sunday, the Asylum Hill Congregational Church and AHNA sponsored
Jazz on the Lawn for the second summer; but this year a downpour mid-afternoon moved the music indoors even though the rain was all over by the time the music started.  It didn't stop friends & neighbors from stopping by the Ice Cream for a Dream or the Quick Bites Jamaican food truck before going inside to enjoy the music, or the bouncy house and craft tables that were a big hit as well. Inside there was free punch and snacks as well and the excellent Jazz of Conga Bop a well know jazz ensemble all around Hartford. Add to that the intermission performance by Hartford Proud Drill, Drum, & Dance Corp that led everyone back out to the parking lot for their spirited show, and you had a really wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Then on Tuesday the long planned 14th annual South Marshall Block Party began setting up at 2:00pm for a 4:00pm start. But the weather intervened and it wasn't until 4:30 that things finally got underway.  Nancy Rion and others organized more than 20 non-profits who entertained the children and informed the parents.  Among them, Immanuel Congregational Church headed up the book collection on four long tables, giving students and children 



Hartford News AHNA Supplement

As part of our communications efforts we publish our newsletter 'AHNA News and Views' as a supplement in the Hartford News monthly.  To cover the printing costs we need to secure ads generating $500.00 dollars each month.  This provides us with four pages with color.  If you, an organization you work for or belong to would like to help support this effort please see the order form below.  Please contact the editor at communications@asylumhill.org  if you know of anyone or business you think we might reach out to for support.  Thank you.


Ad Order Form

Events Calendar


Please click on the following link to go to our online Events Calendar.

From The Editor
If you have any comments, suggestions or submissions please contact me via email at communications@asylumhill.org 
Paul O'Mara Communications Committee Chair
Contact Us
Send emails directly to AHNA at  info@asyluhill.org

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